Irish Times columnist does not understand Irish America
Hillary Clinton’s moves on Northern Ireland indicate a deep interest and not a downgrade
I am the person he is referring to as spreading an “unsourced” story about Hillary Clinton becoming effectively the special envoy to Northern Ireland. I feel he has made an unwarranted and utterly wrong series of allegations about me and Irish America. His screed is so full of inaccuracies as to be laughable for any knowledgeable Irish American observer.
The truth is Hillary Clinton has stated she will handle Northern Ireland herself and not appoint a political envoy but will appoint an economic envoy. I have spoken to her twice about the envoy role since she became secretary of state. The first was soon after she was named by President Obama but not confirmed. We spoke for half an hour about the Irish issue and the role of the envoy. I mentioned that a future Tory government could be problematic as David Cameron had stated he was a confirmed unionist and it might be an important American role to balance that position.
The second was a few months ago when she granted me an interview (during which she first revealed that Ireland had agreed to take two Guantánamo prisoners) and we went off the record to discuss the envoy situation and she asked what my views were. I stressed that there was an important economic piece also to the American role but not to lose sight of the extraordinary insight she herself had on Northern Ireland issues.
She has since also made clear to several key Irish Americans that she will shortly appoint an economic envoy feeling that is a very important role in terms of helping get the Northern Irish economy moving.
The reason I broke the story recently on my website and on Morning Ireland about Clinton handling the role herself was because I believe an economic envoy appointment is imminent. I have spoken to the person who I believe will be appointed and he has confirmed that he is indeed the person under consideration. He said his clear understanding from her was that Clinton will be personally handling the Northern Irish political situation as it arises. That is also the understanding of several leading figures in Washington who deal with Northern Ireland, as well as some party leaders in Northern Ireland and the Republic.